Went to the Young Vic to see In the Red Brown Water. It's the second part of Tarell Alvin McCraney's Brother/Sister trilogy - the first part The Brothers Size is being reprised later this week and then the two pieces run in tandem throughout October.
The play is the story of a Oya a promising young black athlete, trying to make sense of her late teens, in post-Katrina Louisiana. Although the hurricane is never directly referred to in the play the metaphor of water runs through the piece. The theatre itself is flooded ankle deep, making memory both literal and inescapable.
From the very first moments when Oya struggles to run across the space, this staging stands as a scathing metaphor for disadvantage. Politically it's as devastating an image as Mother Courage pulling her cart against the revolve. How much energy is needed in this New Orleans community to standstill, let alone sprint?
A supporting cast of lovers, relatives and adversaries are each defined by motif - a jazz rift, a poetic tag - as they flow in and out of the action, not only sharing the narrative, but continually refocusing it.
The most poignant moment comes when Oya, having settled into an unhappy relationship, removes her running shoes and lets them float away like boats. The shoes are never struck and stay visible, but untethered, throughout the second act. A constant reminder of abandonment both of hope and the city itself.
The ending is as surprising as it is devastating, reminding us, as we've witnessed throughout, that each step taken creates a ripple. A seismic impact in this world where lives and stories are always linked.A full house. A great show. Credit Crunch? Not here. Not yet!